Linguistic Accommodation

Linguistic Accommodation

Linguistic Accommodation is the process by which participants in a conversation adjust their accent, diction, or other aspects of language according to the speaking style of the other participant. Also called linguistic accommodation, speech accommodation, and communication accommodation.

Accommodation most often takes the form of convergence, when one speaker chooses a language variety that seems to fit the style of the other speaker.

Less commonly, accommodation can take the form of divergence, when one speaker signals social distance or disapproval by using a variety of language that differs from the style of the other speaker.

The basis for what would become known as Speech Accommodation Theory (SAT) or Communication Accommodation Theory (CAT) first appeared in Howard Giles’ “Accent Mobility: A Model and Some Data” (Anthropological Linguists, 1973).

A speaker’s attitude towards another speaker in conversation can influence the way (s)he talks. A social psychological approach to language variation, Accommodation Theory – more precisely Speech Accommodation Theory (SAT) – has been developed by the British language psychologist Howard Giles and others since the early 1970s. They aim at providing an explanation why speakers accommodate – i.e. change the manner in which they speak – in face-to-face interaction. Linguistic Accommodation

The two key concepts of SAT are convergence and divergence. These are two linguistic strategies which are applied by interlocutors; they denote the general directions in which accommodation can take place in a speech situation. Depending on the attitude that speakers show towards each other, their language varieties and the shared social context, accommodation can take the form of either convergence or divergence. While convergence constitutes a linguistic, i.e. accommodative, process in which a speaker modifies his/her own speech to resemble more closely the addressee’s speech, divergence refers to a process in which a speaker linguistically moves in the opposite direction in order to make his/her speech sound more unlike that of the person (s)he is talking to.


“We all have more than one accent. Our pronunciation changes subtly depending on who we talk to and how we get along with them. “Linguists call it ‘ accommodation . ‘ Some people have a natural gift for picking up accents, but everyone does it to some degree. Unconsciously, of course. “You only realize you’ve done it when someone asks ‘Are you from here?’ and no satisfactory answer can be thought of.” (David Crystal and Ben Crystal, “Revealed: Why the Brummie Accent Is Loved Everywhere Except Britain.” Daily Mail Oct 3, 2014)

Policespeak”M any of the linguistic behaviors represented here as characteristic of policespeak also occur in the language of those who interact with the police as a manifestation of accommodation.(48) Pol: OK Was it Kelly, or was the two people in the car; So there were four of you in the car, shall I take it? Yours : four people yes yes In this example, the suspect confirms the interviewer’s proposition that ‘there were four of you in the car’ Recycling the interviewer’s use of the term. people .’ (Phil Hall, “Policespeak”. Dimensions of Forensic Linguistics ed. by John Gibbons and M. Teresa Turell. John Benjamins, 2008) Linguistic Accommodation

Convergence and divergence

“According to Giles’ (1973, 1977; Giles & Couland 1991) accommodation In theory, speakers can modify their speech to sound more like others with whom they speak in order to achieve greater social integration with them. However, the Giles’s approach deals not only with convergence through accommodation, but also with divergence, where a group may employ deliberate linguistic differences as a symbolic act to assert or maintain their distinct identity.”Many associate this type of motivation with the ‘acts of identity’ of LePage and Tabouret-Keller (1985), defined as follows: ‘the individual creates for himself the patterns of his linguistic behavior to resemble those of the group or groups with which from time to time you wish to be distinguished” (Tabouret-Keller 1985: 181). They find that “positive and negative motivation to identify with groups” is “by far the most important” of their constraints governing linguistic behavior (LePage and Tabouret-Keller 1985: 2). (Lyle Campbell, “Historical Linguistics: The State of the Art.” Linguistics Today: Facing a Greater Challenge ed. by Piet van Sterkenburg. John Benjamins, 2004)

Explicit accommodation

Accommodation (at least to a ‘previously known’ dialect) is explicit in the following: C: I noticed in my own family that my: – that my older sister who lived in Kentucky the longest has a very strong southern accent, or Kentucky accent. While the rest of us pretty much missed it. = Once I realized that – Z: So you had? C: yes () And then I noticed that when I’m around people who have an accent, I often talk like that a little bit more. Z: Still? So you didn’t do ().C: It depends on the situation. I: tend to: respond to, I think. Every time I’m around someone who has an accent. Or if: – it just slips out, sometimes. (#21) In some cases, such short-term accommodation may have a more lasting influence. K (at No. 53) spent only three weeks with her sister in Kentucky, but her brother molested her when she returned to Michigan.” (Nancy A. Niedzielski and Dennis Richard Preston, Popular Linguistics. Walter de Gruyter, 2003) Linguistic Accommodation


Convergence refers to the process through which an individual shifts speech patterns in interaction so that they more closely resemble the speech patterns of speech partners. People can converge through many features of communication such as their use of language, their “pronunciation, pause and utterance lengths, vocal intensities, non verbal behaviors, and intimacy of self disclosures”(Giles and Smith, 1979, 46), but they do not necessarily have to converge simultaneously at all of these levels. In fact, people can both converge at some levels and diverge through others at the same time.[People use convergence based on their perceptions of others, as well as what they are able to infer about them and their backgrounds. Attraction (likability, charisma, credibility), also triggers convergence. As Turner and West note, “When communicators are attracted to others they will converge in their conversations. On the other hand, as the similarity attraction theory highlights, when people have similar beliefs, personality and behaviors they tend to be more attracted towards each other. To achieve a “desired social distance”(Pardo, 2016), people use language to converge more towards a conversational partner they are attracted to. The desire to make social interaction flow subsequently results in convergence. Many people tend to use converge with one another because they want to feel a sense of fitting in and experience social approval to the people around them. Thus, when one individual shifts speech and non-verbal behaviors in order to assimilate to the other it can result in a more favorable appraisal of him, that is: when convergence is perceived positively it is likely to enhance both the conversation and the attraction between the listener and the speaker. For this reason it could be said that convergence reflects “an individual’s desire for social approval from his interlocutor, and that the greater the individual’s need for social approval, the more likely he or she is to converge. Besides attraction, other factors that “influence the intensity of this” need of approval and hence the level of convergence “include the probability of future interactions, the social status of the addressee, and interpersonal variability for need of social approval”. Other factors that determine whether and to what extent individuals converge in interaction are their relational history, social norms and power variables. Because individuals are more likely to converge to the individual with the higher status it is likely that the speech in a conversation will reflect the speech of the individual with the higher status. Converging also increases the effectiveness of communication, which in turn lowers uncertainty, interpersonal anxiety, and increases mutual understanding. This is another factor that motivates people to converge. People adapt their communication behaviors to establish common ground with another individual. This includes vocal tone/volume, word choice, etc. Social distance is the extent to which two people that are communicating with each other are similar or different. Discourse management is the selection of topics in communication that lead to successful exchanges and minimizing social distance. Linguistic Accommodation


Divergence is a linguistic strategy whereby a member of a speech community accentuates the linguistic differences between himself and his interlocutor. Given that communication features are often core dimensions of what it is to be a member of a group, divergence can be regarded as a very important tactic of displaying a valued distinctiveness from the other. This helps to sustain a positive image of one’s in-group and hence to strengthen one’s social identity. Divergence is commonly used to establish dominance or power in an interaction. For example, if a recent college graduate becomes a professor, they might be teaching students who are around the same age as them. Therefore, it is important for the professor to communicate in a way that the students are aware the professor has more authority than them. Another case where there is a need for divergence are when professionals are with clients. In a 2001 study, doctors and patients discussed musculoskeletal disorders and it was observed that there were miscommunications that occurred because the participants chose to converge during the communication rather than to accentuate their position differences. Patients in the study felt more comfortable discussing their problems because they felt “positive about their doctor’s capacity to understand them. Communicating in a fashion to make speech different can also be interpreted as a sign of dislike towards a person or group.For example, “when you run into a disliked classmate from high school, your vocal pattern becomes more different from that classmate’s. This represents the act of divergence because you are purposely changing your speech to not sound like that person.

Accommodation theory in SLA

Communication accommodation theory (CAT) is a theory of communication developed by Howard Giles. This helps the sender of the message gain recipient approval, increases efficiency in communication between both parties, and helps the sender maintain a positive social identity. Linguistic Accommodation

Furthermore, who invented the accommodation theory? A social psychological approach to language variation, Accommodation Theory – more precisely Speech Accommodation Theory (SAT) – was developed by British language psychologist Howard Giles and others since the early 1970s.

Likewise, what is the example of the accommodation theory of communication?

Examples of Communication Accommodation Theory When a junior employee in an organization is talking to a higher-level employee, both people tend to accommodate, noticing their differences in social status and ranks or positions.

Different aspects of accommodation

What is accommodation in culture?

Cultural accommodation refers to the process by which individuals can take on values ​​and beliefs from the host culture and accommodate them in the public sphere, while keeping the original culture in the private sphere.

What is the main objective of the accommodation theory of communication?

What is the main objective of the accommodation theory of communication? -To keep face and relationships. -Social media not only inspires the style and context of communication, it also has an emotional impact on how individuals from two different cultures decode and understand a message.

What is speech accommodation theory?

In linguistics, accommodation is the process by which participants in a conversation adjust their accent, diction, or other aspects of language to the other participant’s speaking style. Also called language accommodation, speech accommodation and communication accommodation.

What is SLA acculturation?

• Two groups of variables – social factors and affective factors grouped into a single variable, acculturation • Acculturation is an important casual variable in SLA • It is defined as the student’s social and psychological integration with the target language (TL) group • Social and psychological distance between the second

What is divergence in the English language?

Divergence. British English: NOUN divergence. A disagreement is a difference between two or more things, attitudes, or opinions. There is substantial divergence of opinion within the party.

What is discourse theory?

Discourse theory asserts that all relevant text around a message should be considered to understand it clearly and universally, rather than seeing it as an isolated sentence. Discourse theory has received prominence in the social sciences. Linguistic Accommodation

What is accommodation in psychology?

Accommodation is a term developed by psychologist Jean Piaget to describe what happens when new information or experiences cause you to modify your existing schemas. Instead of making the new information fit an existing schema, you change the schema to accommodate the new information.

What is the cognitive theory of learning?

Cognitive Learning Theory is a broad theory that explains thinking and different mental processes and how they are influenced by internal and external factors to produce learning in individuals. These cognitive processes are: observing, categorizing and forming generalizations about our environment.

What is an example of language convergence?

A well-studied example of linguistic convergence is that in the Balkans, where different languages ​​(such as Greek, Albanian, Romanian, Bulgarian) share certain grammatical characteristics. Greek-Roman. Russo-Romani. Arab-Persian Khuzistani.

What are the different theories of communication?

Communication Theories Actor-Network Theory (ANT) Adaptive Structuring Theory (AST) Setting Agenda Theory. Cognitive Dissonance Theory. Groupthink. Priming Social exchange theory. Social learning theory.

What is the purpose of facial trading theory?

Facial Negotiation Theory is a theory conceived by Stella Ting-Toomey in 1985 to understand how people from different cultures manage rapport and disagreements. The theory posited “face”, or self-image when communicating with others, as a universal phenomenon that permeates all cultures.

What is accommodation in the context of interpersonal communication?

The Accommodation Theory of Communication (CAT) is a general theoretical framework for interpersonal and intergroup communication. It seeks to explain and predict why, when and how people adjust their communicative behavior during social interaction and what social consequences result from these adjustments.

What is divergence theory?

Divergence is when the price of an asset is moving in the opposite direction of a technical indicator, such as an oscillator, or is moving in the opposite direction of other data. Divergence warns that the current price trend may be weakening and, in some cases, may lead to price change direction.

What is the meaning of intercultural communication?

Intercultural communication is a discipline that studies communication between different cultures and social groups, or how culture affects communication. With regard to intercultural communication itself, it studies situations in which people from different cultural backgrounds interact.

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